What Kills Clover but Not Grass: A Definitive Guide

what kills clover but not grass

Do you want to know what kills clover but not grass? Understanding exactly what can cause clover to die while grass remains healthy takes some research and knowledge of pests that affect lawns. A common culprit in this problem is a fungal or bacterial infection, as most grasses are naturally more resistant to these diseases than clover.

Another possible reason could be the application of fertilizers and herbicides, as they are often designed to target and kill clover but not grass. Lastly, excessive competition between the two plants can lead to a decline in the health of the clover in the area.

Managing Your Lawn: What Kills Clover But Leaves Grass Unharmed?

Managing a lawn can be a tricky prospect. Different grasses, plants, and even weeds have different characteristics that make them resistant or vulnerable to certain treatments. That can make it a challenge to know where to start when defending and protecting your grassy environment. .

One species of plant in particular that many homeowners struggle with is clover. While it’s not necessarily a weed per se, it often doesn’t line up with the desired aesthetic of the grass, and can potentially even affect its ability to flourish. Now, what kills clover but not grass?

Clover: A Primer

Before we dive into this question in detail, it makes sense to first get acquainted with clover as a species.

Clover is generally defined as a plant in the Trifolium genus, known for its three-lobed leaves and small, clustered flowers produced in a wide range of colors, though most are pink, red, and white. It can typically grow in size from annual to perennial, and due to its hardiness is not easily eradicated.

The Problem With Clover

While clover is largely harmless in and of itself, and even potentially beneficial for lawns and gardens in some regards, it isn’t usually a wanted house guest in many home grassy areas. Some of the common issues that knowledgeable gardeners associate with clover include:

  • Clover is aesthetically different from grass, making it stand out like a sore thumb when planted in a grassy area.
  • It has different nutritional needs than grass, meaning it will take up some of the same resources, potentially weakening the growth of the grass.
  • Clover grows from a different root system than grass, making it less effective at binding soil particles together.
  • Clover is strong and fast-growing, giving it an edge over the grass in a competition for resources.

Treatments That Kill Clover Without Injuring Grass

Fortunately, there are several methods of effective clover removal that don’t put your lovely grass in danger.


Herbicides typically remain the go-to option for dealing with most lawn nuisances, and clover is no exception. When selecting a herbicide to effectively eliminate clover while leaving your lawn unscathed, the guiding principle is to pick only those that are labeled specifically for broadleaf plants. A broadleaf herbicide should target only a range of plants such as clover, dandelions, wild onions, and others which have broader, differently shaped leaves than the grass in your lawn.

Physical Removal and Cover Cropping

If you prefer an organic approach or are dealing with an area too small for chemical treatments, there’s always the tried and true method of physical removal. Carefully raking the sod or clumps of clover should do the trick, though it may also be necessary to introduce a cover crop afterward to reduce the likelihood of clover returning.

Corn Gluten Meal

This method requires a bit more prep work, but can make for an effective and sustainable solution over the long term. Applying a corn gluten meal in the spring should prevent any clover from popping up in the area due to its presence decreasing the germination of weed and clover seeds, while remaining largely harmless to the grass.

In the end, one of the best defenses against clover is knowledge. Knowing what methods are best suited for your particular area and situational factors can help you protect your lawn without running the risk of’ injuring other species of plants due to collateral damage.

Keeping your grass healthy and free of pests and unwanted guests can be a challenge, but with the right strategies, it’s definitely possible!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What chemicals will kill clover but not grass?

An herbicidal weed killer that contains ingredients like triclopyr or glyphosate will be effective in killing clover without harming your grass. Be sure to read the instructions when using a chemical weed killer to ensure it does not harm the surrounding landscape.
Depending on the size of the lawn, a lawn care company may use a combination of pre-emerge and post-emerge herbicides to keep your lawn healthy and clover-free.

How can I get rid of clover without killing grass?

Manual removal of clover is possible, but it is time consuming and difficult without a proper weeding tool. Fortunately, there are post-emergent herbicides that contain materials that selectively target clover without killing grass.
For small applications, a weeding roller or a spot treatment with an herbicide may be effective. To keep clover from growing back, it’s important to fertilize and water your grass throughout the spring and summer so that it is healthy and capable of blocking out the sun from clover, thus preventing its re-growth.

Can clover and grass be mixed together?

While mixing clover and grass can potentially help create a more resilient and diverse living landscape, it is not recommended because clover can quickly overtake grass in most situations.
If you are aiming to transition your lawn to a more natural clover-grass blend, it is best to slowly transition so that the clover doesn’t become overwhelming.

Will cutting clover get rid of it?

For large infestations, cutting clover may offer some temporary relief of clover infestations on your lawn. However, the growth habit of clover is such that it will continue to regenerate from excessive cutting or mowing.
For a longer-term solution, it is best to use an herbicide that selectively targets clover or adjust your fertilization routine to discourage the growth of clover.

What products will kill clover but not grass?

There are several products on the market that will kill clover but not grass. Most weed killer sprays contain a combination of triclopyr or glyphosate, which are selective herbicides that will kill clover without damaging the grass when used properly.
For larger infestations, a pre-emergent herbicide may be effective. It’s important to note that some products will only target certain species of clover, so make sure to read the label to make sure it will target your specific clover outgrowth.

How do you prevent clover from growing?

Preventing clover from growing is best accomplished by actively maintaining a healthy lawn environment. The most important things you can do are to keep your lawn fertilized, keep it watered properly, and mow it often.
Clover is a weed that needs sunlight to grow, and a healthy lawn can prevent it from reaching the surface. Additionally, using a pre-emergent herbicide can be beneficial in preventing clover from taking over your lawn.

Does clover attract bees?

Yes, clover is a favorite of many different species of bees, which makes it one of the most popularly planted pollinator supporting plants.
Clover attracts both honey bees and bumblebees and produces plenty of nectar and pollen for them to feed on throughout the blooming season.

Will vinegar kill clover?

Vinegar can be a useful tool in eliminating clover from a lawn or garden, but its effects are not as reliable as a selective herbicide. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which has been found to have an effect on clover and other weeds, and applying it directly to the weeds can help reduce their presence on a lawn.

Wrapping Things Up

Summarizing, clover can be difficult to eliminate from lawns because it’s tolerant of most herbicides. To keep your lush grass and get rid of the clover, you should use herbicides that are specifically labeled to kill clover, but won’t damage your grass. If these herbicides are applied correctly, they will effectively remove clover without killing your grass. Proper lawn maintenance is always key to keeping clover at bay. Mowing the lawn regularly and applying the right herbicide can help keep the clover from returning to your lawn and keep your grass looking healthy.

Overall, it is possible to get rid of the clover without damaging the grass, as long as you take the time to understand what kills clover but not grass. So, if you want to keep your lawn looking green and healthy, take the appropriate steps to remove the clover without harming your turf.

Cathryn Thompson

Hi, I am Cathryn Thompson. I am a full-time blogger. I ditched my 9-5 job many years back to explore life a bit more. In this blog, I like writing about everything that can save us from the monotony of regular life and live our life to the fullest.

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